Friday, September 28, 2012

Fat Girl Rescue

I remember it like it was yesterday.
If you'd take a stroll with me on the playground at the elementary school where I grew up,
I could show you just where I was when the words hit.   "You're fat.  Fatty."
I remember who said the words.  I still know their names.
All this from grade one and two and a lifetime ago.

In the most honest way, they were right.
I was kind of a fat girl.
Rolls and padding with "pleasantly plump" as my tag line.
Memories of crying in change rooms because there didn't seem to be any jeans that would fit.
Lying down on a bed to get the zipper done up.
The boys never had crushes on fat girls like me.
It was the stick-like girls with tiny frames and blond hair.
"Petite" is a much better tag line than the alternative.

Grade 7 came and then I grew.  It was like it happened overnight.
Long legs and lean body.
Maybe even skinny.
And I liked it.
Angular, bony and straight.
 I was right where I wanted to be.
I chased it and embraced it.
A gift put right into my hands.
Because I grew.

I always wondered when the gift would run out.
When skinny and angular would shift.
Desperately wanting to hold on for dear life.
Thinking that a lifetime trapped in a fat body would be worse than a chronic disease.
Hold in stomach.
Check mirror.
Curse softness.
Aspire to the stick figure with all you've got.
Plan ahead.
Preoccupied with fear of fat that would put me right back where I started from.

Babies came and left this body.  Weight with them.
"Will I ever be the same?  Will I be skinny again?"
Strut around in your jeans two weeks after giving birth like you just won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Badge of honor, they were.
Sigh of relief.  You did it.  You lost it.
No one can take that away from you.
Not even three babies.

Mom of girls.
Long legs, tall frames, strong and healthy.
No one calls them fat at recess.
And you secretly thank the body gods for saving them from the curse.
God, save them from the curse.
(After all these years, your thinking is still messed up.)

Youngest  daughter finds friend with glorious soft body.
Strong, ample, and full of life.
Heart full of space and room for that daughter of yours to find a place to rest.
Playing and laughing and exploring in the school yard.
When the voice makes its way from the mouths of the boys.
"You look pregnant.  You're fat.  Look at your belly."
Every.  Single.  Recess.

Your daughter relates the words like a story.
"I told them to stop", she says.
"I told her that it's OK.   Don't worry about it.   I like you how you are."
And I say, "Yes!  Yes!  She is OK.  More than OK.  Her body is beautiful."
And I remind myself to believe it because I know it's true.

No teacher was told.
And so today after school there will be a fat girl rescue.
I will "out" those voices that spill out of those boys mouths before they find their way into her mind.
If they haven't already.
Please let them not have taken up residence there.
I don't want her to be a woman with a memory as good as mine.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

The grey skies and insane wind of late have made me feel ripped off as the lower mainland has been in the midst of a sunny heat wave.  That's right.  I said sunny.  Here's hoping the forecast for nothing but sun next week makes it up to me.

Hannah can really play her sax.  She's been playing it for a year, but now she can really play it.

If I see even one fruit fly in my kitchen it's war on the little bastards.  Death to fruit flies everywhere.  I hate shopping for groceries when I occasionally notice that there are millions of the suckers milling about the produce department.  It makes me want to run away and scream.  Do I really look dumb enough to transport fruit AND flies home?  I think not.

One of Mike's goals in life is for our family to be like a miniature "School of Rock" in which he is the girl's own personal Dewey Finn.  This has worked out well.  Our girls know their share of the classics. As of late, Ellie's favourite album is Zenyatta Mondatta from The Police.  She sings along.  She requests it.  She knows the lyrics for memory.  Her dad is very proud.

I have been taking the girls on a little Michael Jackson tribute while we drive to school.  Our current favorite is Man in the Mirror.  Ellie sings the gospel choir part and the rest of us are Michael.  It works.   And don't laugh, but it's actually a pretty inspiring song to hear as you're heading to the big world of school.  Try it.

Mike is in Minneapolis this weekend with three buddies for an NFL game and other various shenanigans.  He deserves it.

Have you tried "Sweet Chili Heat" Thincrisps Triscuits?  You should.

I know it's so "last year", but I just finished reading Rhoda Janzen's Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and I was so disappointed.  It felt so incredibly contrived and forced.  I'm not sure what all of the hype was about.

The best book I've read in the past month or so is a memoir of sorts by a midwife called Blue Cotton Gown by Patricia Harman.  It awakened something in me.  It was spiritually rich.

I just got Jian Ghomeshi's 1982 yesterday and I can't wait to crack it open this week.  Sadly, the reviews I've read have not been great, but I still hold out optimism and hope for my Persian Prince.   I gotta start listening to some Bowie before I can begin reading.  You know, set the mood.

Our family joined the Y.  I was reluctant because I loved the gym I was a member at before we moved. I'm a creature of habit and I resist change.  But this has been a good change.  We've hung out at the Y as a family a few times and I manage to make it in several mornings a week.  It's clean, spacious, and bright and there are tonnes of machines and some good classes too.  Mike was right.

Managing the paper trail that emerges with three kids in school is practically a full-time job in itself.

I wonder if the Winnipeg Transit Driver who gave his shoes away last week was miffed at all the attention he got?  I wonder if he would have preferred to remain anonymous?

Finding a church that has something for everyone is not easy.

I am absolutely reveling in the class I am taking this term.  It is comprised of amazing women (and one token man!) with rich stories, a fabulous professor, interesting reading and so much food for thought.  I am exactly where I am meant to be.

I'm glad fall is here so I can bake with pumpkin again and not feel like it's wrong.

Kids grow fast.

It's nearly 1 AM and I am still up.  What's wrong with me?

I found Ellie the best violin teacher!  It took a lot of research and phone calls and writing of emails from way back to early last spring, but I found her!  She's teaching Ellie through Preparatory Studies at U of M and is simply amazing.  I think this is the first time that Ellie has actually been excited about violin.  The very first song she assigned to Ellie was "Angeline the Baker" one of our favorites from the band, Crooked Still.  We knew then that we had a winner.

Sasha is the neatest kid I know.  I don't know where she got this trait from.  She likes everything organized, clean, and tidy.  She did not learn this from her mom.

Mike has been biking to work and back every single day.  Even in hurricane force winds!  He's determined to bike all winter (yes, in Winnipeg).  He also takes 3 showers a day.  He's in good shape, and he smells good!

Winnipeg is not a city built for cyclists.  I hope that Mike makes it home unscathed every single day.

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?  God help us all.

Time really does fly.  I wish I could slow it down.

Having your own locker when you start grade seven feels pretty good.  Having independence and freedom and more responsibility for your own life and things feels pretty good too.  It's a delicate dance to know how to play your role in this newness when you're the mom.

Thanks to our neighbor Kiera, I have been introduced to the "Banana Cream Pie" Blizzard at Dairly Queen.  Don't scoff.  It's the best Blizzard I've had.  I noticed that DQ is offering a "Pumpkin Pie" Blizzard as a seasonal offering.   I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Dan Mangan is doing a show in Winnipeg in November.  I could not be happier.

Delhi 2 Dublin is coming to Winnipeg in November too.  We'd really like to go to their show as well.  It's either feast of famine.

It's nearly time to call this blog quits and wrap it up.  It was created for a season, and that season is drawing to a close.  I have plans to begin a new blog that isn't focussed on moving and transitions.

You know it's getting colder when your Magic Bag makes an appearance to warm up your feet when you get into bed.  I think that Magic Bags are one of the world's greatest inventions.  So do my feet.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What Brave Looks Like

Brave looks like a seven year old girl starting a new school.

She doesn't know anyone in her class.  Her school is huge compared to what she is used to. There are people everywhere.  Rooms and offices and hallways surround her.  Routines and transitions and protocol that she's never been part of before, while most everyone else has.   She was known before -  in her other school.  She was centered in relationships with giggles and laughter,  secrets and notes and play dates after school.  Now she is starting over.   She marches in every morning with determination - never hesitating.  She holds her head high and listens, listens, listens so she won't miss a thing.  She watches the conventions, the style of play, the names of the games and the way they're played.  Always learning and observing and waiting for her turn to jump in.  Waiting for the empty space that has room just for her.

Brave looks like a nine year old fitting back in.

Surrounded by faces and names of people she used to know.  People that want to be with her and have her be with them.  Expectations and wishes and lots of "just like it used to be".  But it's not just like it used to be.  It never is.  And that is OK.  She navigates and mediates and works her way through the crowds to find her place.  She knows who she is - that much is sure.  She's just not sure who everyone else is yet - and how she'll fit into the middle of them.

Brave looks like a twelve and a half year old girl.

She watches.   And here is the soundtrack.... "What does twelve and a half look like here?  Does it look like me?  Do I fit in to the layers and levels and patterns and people?  I'm not a little girl anymore and neither are they.  Where do I leave myself?  I want to be a part of something... I just don't know which something that is.  Is anyone else like me?  Maybe.  But they don't know my story yet.  I'm not ready to tell it.  This is where it begins - the choosing, deciding, staking my claim and setting a course.  But I'm only twelve and a half.  I don't even know who I am - I'm just beginning.  Does anyone else feel like me?  Does anyone else see me?   No one else knows how it feels to be me."

This is what brave looks like.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Letting Go

No matter what I've said or written down or repeated I always second guess myself on their first day.

It happened again this morning.
As I drove away from their school after leaving all three at their Winnipeg school for the very first time something felt so unfinished.   And I felt heavy.

That heavy feeling found a comfortable spot and made itself at home.  It's still there.

The "unfinished" part of my thoughts goes something like this....

         Did I say everything I wanted to?  
         Did I assure them of their value?  
         Did I remind them that they're amazing kids?  
         Will they know how much we love them?
         Will they feel secure?
         Are they afraid?
         Are they lonely?
         Will they find someone who could become their safe place?
         Will their teachers have the time and energy to discover what interesting, creative, funny and           
         compassionate girls they are?
         Am I ready to have a daughter in grade seven?
         Will I screw up?  (I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this one)
All this, even with the little family conference last night in which they were reminded of their value and worth and our unconditional love no matter how crazy things may get.

One thing I'm beginning to learn is this - it's never enough.
What you say and communicate and assure them of will simply never be enough.
How could words or sentiment ever be enough when you're sending your very own into the world to navigate and explore on their own without you?

Words can't really compare to how you feel and wish you were walking alongside them so you could occasionally clear your throat really loudly and point at your kid and say to everyone around you  - "Listen up to THIS kid.  This one here.  She's got something important to say.  She knows the answer.  She's really good at this.  She cares about his.  She feels strongly about it.  She's exceptional and extraordinary and deserves her moment in the sun."

And so this heavy feeling just kind of sits here.   The heavy feeling comprised of this tension of so desperately believing and knowing they are ready to be on their own, but still feeling like maybe you're the one who is not quite ready.

So today I'll sit with this heavy feeling.  Feel it and sink into it just a little.

In a few hours I'll leave to pick them up and their voices will all be competing to tell me about their days.  With every story and name of a new friend the heaviness will dissipate and soon I'll be breathing easier....

....until it's time to let go again.